The geometry of politics
May 2, 2007
The stale mediocrity of the traditional left-right dichotomy was probably apparent the moment it was first uttered. Luckily there are many great alternative ways to view the geometry of the political. My favorite of these is a very simple extension of the left-right division made by Political Compass. Instead of a simple line, the geometry to which Political Compass assigns your endlessly unique belief is a plane in which the horizontal axis encodes your economic beliefs (collectivism vs. laissez-faire capitalism) and the vertical axis encodes your social beliefs (libertarianism vs. authoritarianism).
You can take a quiz online here to determine your place on the Political Compass. As I expected, my own beliefs placed me in the anarcho-communist quadrant, in pleasant company with The Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela, and thankfully quite far from both Hitler and the current occupant of the White House. In the above picture the libertarian-capitalist quadrant is strangely absent of any examples. Some extreme historical examples include Milton Friedman and Robert Nozick, while less extreme and more current examples include anyone in the American Libertarian party.
This geometerization of political thought made me wonder if there was an obvious third axis we could add to make the diagram three-dimensional. I can’t think of any good ones off the bat, but let me know if you do, or alternatively if the existing axes should be replaced with something more apt.